TREASURE puts out a good show at the Farming by Satellite Competition

TREASURE enters the competition with two teams and both make it to the finals!

About the Competition:

The Farming by Satellite competition aims to promote Europe’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and Earth Observation (EO) services in agriculture. The annual competition has been active since 2012 and rewards innovative ideas that incorporate new GNSS or EO technologies to improve agriculture. Eligible competitors must be under age 32, residents or citizens of European countries, and can compete individually or in teams (4 members maximum).

The TREASURE Teams:

Two teams were formed, each led by an ESR hosted by TREASURE industrial partners Noveltis and Geo++, respectively:

  • Team TREASURE – led by Paola Testa (Noveltis)

  • Team A-Micas – led by Francesco Darugna (Geo++)

Although the competition rules only allowed the registration of 4 team members, the other TREASURE ESRs enthusiastically contributed ‘unofficially’ to the entries.

The TREASURE Entries

Team TREASURE abstract: GALILEO for automated transplanting

Automated transplanting is a modern farming practice where young crops are first germinated in greenhouses then automatically planted in the field. This technique can provide significant benefits: increased yields, better crop quality and resilience, reduced costs and impact on natural resources. Automated transplanting through GNSS-based guidance allows precise placement of crops during specific planting intervals to ensure optimal environmental conditions and crop survival rates. The present work proposes an EGNSS-based PPP-RTK positioning algorithm augmented with ionospheric corrections to improve precision and reduce the Time-To-First-Fix (TTFF) for a single-receiver GNSS user. After a loss of lock, automated transplanting will experience several minutes of downtime while the receiver recalculates the position. Our Galileo-only, dual-frequency, PPP-RTK (user) simulation shows that the proposed ionospheric corrections achieve instantaneous integer ambiguity resolution with horizontal and vertical formal precision of 2 and 5cm, respectively. The simulation also shows ionospheric corrections with a precision of 5cm can lead to a TTFF of 11min, almost one third the TTFF of the PPP-RTK model without ionospheric corrections. Therefore, our method can reduce automated transplanting downtime, increase economic efficiency, and maximize operational productivity. These benefits may help the agriculture industry in sustainably bridging the current yield gap, especially for small farmers. 

Team A-Micas abstract: Precision Viniculture: a low-priced augmenting support for UAV’s precise positioning based on dual-frequency mass-market receivers.

Emerging technologies, such as the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) or other different satellite/airborne remote sensing techniques, have started playing a central role in Precision Farming. More recently, the use of drones has particularly spread within the viticulture field, allowing having a fast and accurate feedback on the vineyard status. By means of multi-spectral imaging, the user has real-time access to a large quantity of information such as health, stress and biomass of plants. In this context, the precise positioning of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is often based on expensive and complex navigation systems, along with requiring complex additional infrastructures. Furthermore, the dual-frequency devices (low-cost chipsets and smartphones) have been recently released to the market, while including Galileo capabilities too. In this work we exploit the adoption of commercial (Galileo-compatible) dual-frequency smartphones in order to provide in-field augmentation to UAVs, based on local and real-time atmospheric corrections derived from the measurements, so enhancing their positioning. This flow of parameters can be computed locally by state-of-the-art techniques (e.g. NRTK), while providing essential information for improving the geolocation of spectral image data acquired by cheap UAVs. This aspect will make their use in viniculture easier, cost-effective and widespread.

Both teams make it to the final and team TREASURE is awarded second place!

Out of the 19 eligible submissions to the competition, six teams were short-listed to present their ideas during an all expenses paid trip to Marseille, France in association with the European Space Week (ESW). Both TREASURE teams were selected and all six finalist teams attended a welcome dinner on December 4th, each delivering 20-minute presentations to a panel of judges the next day. Later that day, competitors attended the ESW’s Sustainable Land Management session where the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize winners were announced, with Team TREASURE winning a prestigious second place

Well done both TREASURE teams!

Congratulations to both TREASURE and A-Micas teams for securing their place in the competition’s final phase. Great job to team TREASURE for winning the second place prize!